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07 Jewish business in Calcutta

Other Jewish Businesses by Sano Twena



E. Meyer & Co.

Legend has it he and his brother Menasseh, later of Singapore, started as hawkers in the Strand. Both became multi-millionaires. I believe that Elias made his fortune in a speculation on the revaluation of the rupee in 1917. Menasseh had a multi storey property in Lower Chitpore Road, and before I left Calcutta in the 1960’s, I saw, looking from Lalbazaar/Bowbazaar corner, his name inscribed in big letters at the top. After his death, E.Meyer’s widow established the Talmud Torah schooI in his memory.



A.J. Shellim & Co;

Joe Benjamin was a partner in a firm of gunny brokers

Albert David and Co owned by Bertie Judah (large pharmaceutical Company)


I believe that there was a Jewish interest in the Great Eastern Hotel of a man named Josephson, who may also have been a jeweller of standing. My mother’s diamond engagement ring was purchased from him.


Dr Judah, Ear Nose & Throat Specialist. He was the son-in-law of Elias Meyer.

Victor Moses & Co. Solicitors, of 6 Old Post Office Street; he died some years ago, but the firm is more flourishing than what it was in his time.

I believe that that there was at one time a Finance member of the Viceroy’s Council named Ralph Gubbay, who may have been from Calcutta. Legend has it that there was a change in a Finance Bill, made after a telephone discussion that took place between Sir Victor and Ralph Gubbay, resulting in its amendment.

Hairdressing Salon :

Margaret Walkers was a hair dressing salon owned by Florence and Moses Judah. The establishment was bought from a British woman. Florence trained under her and then bought the business when she married. It was located on the ground floor of Stephen’s Court on Park Street.


My grandfather, Isaac Ezekiel Jacob established Mercantile Stationers Syndicate.

My great grandfather, Hacham Shelomo Twena, and his son Moshe, purchased the Hebrew Press owned by E.M.D.Cohen the long serving Hazan of the Maghen David. Apart from publishing the volumes of the commentaries on the Tanach, he published a weekly, called the Maggid Mesharim in the Judeo-Arabic spoken by the congregation, from 1890-1901.

Shum Howard, Aaron Harazi, Studio Nash, worked at Harrison Trading owned by Aaron Morris (Shumah).

Jewish refugees, doctors who practised in Calcutta: Dr. Lantos – a skin specialist, Dr. Neu, and Dr. Handel.

Pianists Lizel Starey, Lizel Braun.